The Canadian farming industry is changing. More and more farmers are nearing the age of retirement, and most of them have yet to establish a succession plan for their farms. At the same time, fewer new young farmers are joining the workforce. According to a Statistics Canada study, the average age of Canadian farmers is 55 years old. The number of Canadian farmers over 70 outweigh those under 35.
One of the reasons? Many young aspiring farmers are finding it difficult to start their own operations. (Young Farmers of Canada defines “young” as under 40 years old.) Land acquisition has become costly and many farmers are forced to borrow land from the government and/or other farmers. There are also many financial risks associated with starting a farm. Statistics Canada reports that many young farmers have a second job, off the farm, in order to generate additional income and reduce their financial burden.
Young farmers are stepping up to the challenge
However, things are starting to change. Young farmers are stepping up to the challenge and finding ways to start their own farms. Since 2011, the number of farmers under 35 has increased. There’s also been a rise in the number of women farmers over the last 20 years. These new young farmers are bringing innovative and creative ideas to the table. They are changing the way we view agriculture by moving away from conventional farming and choosing more sustainable and modern methods.
Some young farmers are receiving additional incentives and funding from the federal government. For example, the Young Farmer Loan and the FCC Starter Loan were created for young farmers to help them start their agriculture and farming business.
“Farming: The Next Generation”
Filmmakers, Tamer Saliman and Sarah Douglas are also helping new young farmers. Their upcoming documentary called Farming: The Next Generation will highlight the aspirations, motivations, and challenges experienced by young farmers working in different farming areas (including organics!). They believe in the future of our young Canadian farmers and they want to equip them with the tools to make them successful. Tamer and Sarah are ready to address and tackle the barriers that farmers experience when starting a farm.
Preliminary interviews have already revealed some of the farmers’ thoughts about the future of farming. Tamer and Sarah have discovered that young farmers are “knowledgeable, energetic and passionate” and want to make a positive contribution to our food and agriculture system. New young progressive farmers also see agriculture as a “form of activism.” They want to continue to implement methods and techniques to reduce the impact of climate change.They are more progressive in their farming methods and believe in regenerative and organic farming. They believe that this change needs to start now!
While the documentary is currently in its pre-production, Tamer and Sarah hope to interview and include as many young farmers as possible. They want to include farmers that are changing the Canadian agriculture and farming industry. Tamer and Sarah also want to highlight the diversity in farming by including farmers from different social, economical and geographical backgrounds.
As part of the pre-production, Tamer and Sarah are raising money for their documentary. They hope to raise $250,000 which will go towards the documentary’s production, including the writing, cinematography, and videography, to name a few. To support the project, please see the Wayblaze page for Farming: The Next Generation. More information about the documentary can also be found on this site.
The next generation of farmers
While the farming workforce is aging, many new young farmers are receiving some of the help and exposure that they need to start their own farms. In some cases, provincial and/or federal governments are providing financial support to them (e.g., AgriDiversity program, Young Farmer Loan, etc.).
Tamer and Sarah hope to make a positive contribution to the farming industry in their upcoming documentary. They will highlight the challenges experienced by young farmers and hope to provide them with valuable tools. The next generation of farmers is here, and they’re changing the future of farming.